How to Use AI for Business Growth in 2024

The year 2023 can aptly be summed up as a year of exploration, with the remarkable debut and early applications of generative artificial intelligence (AI). As this technology continues to rapidly advance, 2024 marks a significant turning point for people and businesses alike, moving beyond the concept of AI and its influence to determining how they can adopt it for the long haul in impactful ways.

For small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) specifically, this means assessing the technology’s true impact—and SMB owners have already begun to scratch the surface. According to a recent Visa survey, 90% of Generation Z and millennial SMB owners, 91% of Generation X SMB owners, and 70% of baby boomer SMB owners are aware of AI and have gained an understanding of its potential business applications.

While AI can be incredibly valuable for SMBs, it can also raise valid questions and concerns. These challenges potentially stem from the complexity of the AI landscape, coupled with the limited resources and technical expertise that are commonly pervasive within smaller companies.

The survey also revealed a notable gap in the adoption of AI among SMBs. While many expressed positive sentiments, only 26% of SMB leaders have used AI tools like ChatGPT for personal and business purposes, with 45% yet to embrace its potential benefits. Navigating these intricacies can pose a significant barrier to AI implementation for SMBs, which are likely to gain more from the technology than their larger counterparts.

AI is reshaping every industry and transforming how businesses operate at an unprecedented rate. Amidst these rapid advances, SMBs stand as the backbone of world economies, making their AI journey particularly valuable to drive growth and efficiency. AI adoption can be a catalyst for streamlining operations, meeting customer demands, and improving productivity. After all, SMBs aren’t strangers to being tasked with doing more with less.

According to the survey, 44% of SMB leaders think AI will be most impactful in customer support or operations, 43% in marketing or accounting, 37% in financial management, 33% in sales, 29% in human resources regarding current employees, and 27% in recruiting and hiring.

If you are still wary of adopting AI or just don’t know where to start, here are three easy steps to integrate AI into your back-end business process.

1. Start by strengthening its foundation

No matter what stage your business is in or what you are trying to accomplish, every SMB has administrative needs. While these tasks are critical to the success of business operations, they can be manual and incredibly time-consuming when every minute spent away from sales activities can mean dollars out of pockets.

Streamlining routine tasks can help boost operational efficiencies and bolster bottom lines. AI tools that currently exist to help automate these foundational tasks are perhaps the easiest to implement when starting your AI journey.

Consider integrating a virtual assistant tool in areas of the business that take up too much time, like bookkeeping or time management. These tools can automate various tasks, including data entry, appointment scheduling, and document organization. It can be as simple as automating the input of customer information, setting up an AI-driven workforce scheduling system, or even organizing computer and cloud files.

2. Foster human-like communication through natural language interactions

One of the core benefits of AI is its predictive capabilities and the powerful applications associated with them, which empowers a business to customize its products and services to better meet customer demands. With technology like ChatGPT, you can integrate natural language processing to engage with customers in a conversational tone. Generative AI-powered chatbots, for instance, can provide instant responses, 24/7 customer support, and personalized interactions, enhancing the overall customer experience and promoting brand loyalty.

Generative AI is gaining widespread popularity due to its ability to replicate human-like conversations and execute routine tasks efficiently. One of the key benefits of adopting and integrating this technology is its ability to learn from customer interactions over time. AI tools can continuously enhance accuracy and efficiency in understanding and addressing customer needs by analyzing user queries, feedback and preferences.

Integrating AI-powered assistance into a customer service strategy offers many advantages. These automated, conversational agents enable you to provide swift and seamless customer service, effectively diminish wait times, and lower staffing expenses. For example, suppose you are struggling to keep up with customer queries and requests on your social media business pages. In that case, this technology can handle the communications on your business’s behalf, ensuring a responsive and personalized user experience.

3. Personalize customers’ experience with hyper-curated recommendations

AI has been seamlessly woven into consumers’ daily lives, offering personalized experiences, understanding preferences, and automating tasks that make lives easier. Similarly, recent advancements have brought forth new realms of possibilities for SMBs to extend more ease to consumers. Customers are motivated to buy from businesses that offer a convenient and easy shopping experience relevant to their interests. Their satisfaction and loyalty to a brand are often dependent upon three characteristics: speed, personalization, and consistency.

Leveraging AI-powered analytics can enable your business to understand your customers better by unlocking quick access to large sets of data. This data can generate predictions and customize product and service recommendations that are specific to individual customer needs. Often with just a click of a button, these tools can build hyper-curated recommendations for every customer, enhancing brand engagement and loyalty.

AI technology can help your business grow

While it may seem as though AI has only just emerged, the time to explore its potential is now. SMBs are well-positioned to take advantage of AI-driven tools and stand to redefine the ways in which they operate and grow.

So, let’s make this year a transformative one, where AI technology becomes the key to unlocking new growth engines for your business.

FAQs about utilizing AI for business growth

How do you leverage AI for business growth?

Small businesses can use AI to automate tasks (i.e., virtual assistants for bookkeeping), engage customers with natural language interactions (i.e., ChatGPT chatbots), and offer personalized experiences through AI-powered analytics.

How does AI increase profitability?

AI boosts profitability by enhancing operational efficiency, improving customer engagement, enabling data-driven decision-making, and facilitating personalized marketing efforts, leading to increased revenue and cost savings.

How can AI help small businesses?

AI can aid small businesses in numerous ways—from automating routine tasks to offering data insights for informed decision-making and more personalized marketing to increase sales.

About the Author

Post by: Veronica Fernandez

Veronica Fernandez is the SVP and North America Head of Visa Commercial Solutions (VCS), which help enable businesses to thrive through products that provide better cash flow, administrative efficiency, control and acceptance. From small businesses to large corporations and governments, VCS products cover all forms of business spending. Veronica is responsible for the business, strategy and go to market for the U.S. and Canada. She joined Visa in February of 2007 and has led numerous teams across VCS, North America Merchant and Prepaid.

Company: Visa
Connect with me on LinkedIn.


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